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Thread: lower back pain

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    I am a triathlete who has been doing triathlons for 6 years or so. Lately I have been struggling with lower pain back that comes after I ride. Any suggestions? I do back stretches before and after the ride. I suspect that my aerobars aren't overly helpful. I do have some deterioration in L4 and L5. Words of wisdom, except "don't ride."

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    Q
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    Bill,

    I have been bothered with lower back pain for years. The more I ride, the worse it gets.I should add at this time, that I ride road bikes exclusively. I noticed that in winter, when I ride less & work out at the gym more, the problem nearly disappears. I have been to orthopods, chiropractors, back specialists, neurologists & even did chants while burning incense made from ground up Continental Grand Prix tires & Pedro's Lube. Nothing helped.

    While recovering from elbow surgery, my physical therapist & I were talking about how much I like to ride, etc., & I told him of my back pain. He explained to me that riding makes the quads & hip flexors hypertrophic (built up), while the hamstrings, glutes & erector muscles in the back & abdomen become relatively weaker. This creates an imbalance. The hamstrings & glutes become very tight trying to balance the overly strong quads. Ditto the back & abdominal erector muscles. This tightness creates pain (in my case sometimes extremely intense).

    He assigned a series of stretches that really concentrated on the hamstrings & glutes as well as back extensions. He cautioned me never to stretch until I was fully warmed up.

    The bottom line is...this really worked for me. My hamstrings & glutes are usually VERY tight. (I suspect this is exacerbated by age...I'm in my late 50's). I do not particularly like like doing the stretches, but when I do them after riding, I am not quite, but nearly pain free. When I don't do them.....I pay!

    Hope this helps you. Feel free to E-mail me if you need clarification.

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    lower back pain

    Whoaa...perfect thread.

    I too am in my mid 50s and have a lower back pain problem, though it is not extreme.

    I was thinking of putting a new stem on my bike to put the seat level with the handle bars...keeping me in an upright position.

    I do stretching several times a week...but if you could send a diagram or explanation of the stretches you do, I would really appreciate it.

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    cause not mentioned- back pain

    Strength imbalance, common for cyclists, in in several areas can cause pain and even injury. Doing regular abdominal excercises like sit-ups or crunches can prevent this problem and even give relief when occuring. Abdominal work keeps the back muscles stretched, and the spine in proper alignment. Weak "abs" allow the back muscles to over-tighten and over-develop, pulling the spine into an unnatural position.
    THIS IS TRUE FOR VIRTUALLY EVERY CYCLIST I KNOW WHO DOES NOT DO "AB WORK".

    Unequal leg length, more common than you might think, can cause back pain. The back becomes slightly curved to one side shortening and tightening the muscles, on the "short"
    side.
    The cure is to put a spacer, 1/2 as thick as the leg length difference, in the shoe or between the cleat and the shoe. If your leg length difference is 2cm then shim/space 1cm.

    As mentioned in the earlier reply, stretching is very important, however be sure to be "warmed up", do the stretches slowly while breathing deeply, and never, never "bounce" the stretch.
    If you can't find stretches in the cycling books in your library, try looking for stretches in martial arts, (karate judo etc.), books or maybe even better in modern dance or ballet texts, no kidding!
    Pat5319


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    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    here is a solution you can buy

    Yes, I too had a problem with lower back pain after bicycling.

    I am a martial artist who stretches and does a lot of other excersise, so the thought of spending even more time stretching was a drag.

    I found out that my problem was the tremendous jarring I received from hitting cracks and holes in the rode. The shock was sent right up into the hard seat and into my body.

    I switched to saddles with springs as well as a soft covering. It has made all the difference in the world. Some cyclists say that you lose power and energy with a soft saddle. Sure, man, whatever. I lose more power and energy when my back is hurting. The pain is now gone, I am back on the big wheel, and life is grand.

    Mike

    [Edited by mike on 10-18-2000 at 11:00 PM]
    Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by Q View Post
    Bill,

    I have been bothered with lower back pain for years. The more I ride, the worse it gets.I should add at this time, that I ride road bikes exclusively. I noticed that in winter, when I ride less & work out at the gym more, the problem nearly disappears. I have been to orthopods, chiropractors, back specialists, neurologists & even did chants while burning incense made from ground up Continental Grand Prix tires & Pedro's Lube. Nothing helped.

    While recovering from elbow surgery, my physical therapist & I were talking about how much I like to ride, etc., & I told him of my back pain. He explained to me that riding makes the quads & hip flexors hypertrophic (built up), while the hamstrings, glutes & erector muscles in the back & abdomen become relatively weaker. This creates an imbalance. The hamstrings & glutes become very tight trying to balance the overly strong quads. Ditto the back & abdominal erector muscles. This tightness creates pain (in my case sometimes extremely intense).

    He assigned a series of stretches that really concentrated on the hamstrings & glutes as well as back extensions. He cautioned me never to stretch until I was fully warmed up.

    The bottom line is...this really worked for me. My hamstrings & glutes are usually VERY tight. (I suspect this is exacerbated by age...I'm in my late 50's). I do not particularly like like doing the stretches, but when I do them after riding, I am not quite, but nearly pain free. When I don't do them.....I pay!

    Hope this helps you. Feel free to E-mail me if you need clarification.
    This looks like a fairly old thread, but i too am bothered w/ nasty back pain. What kinds of stretches did your PT assign you? i am willing to try anything at this point. The pain ONLY occurs while i am on the bike, goes away within minutes after i am done riding.

    thanks

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    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    If you are recovering from pain within minutes of biking, then I have to guess you are a fairly young rider or at least the body of a young rider. These days, for me it doesn't seem like any pain goes away within minutes. Uhg.

    Anyway, do try a springer saddle or a saddle with some kind of suspension. IMO, soft saddles don't help in this regard. It is best to have something that will actually smooth out the jarring from the road.

    Otherwise, it is possible that your bike frame geometry isn't correct for you - either having you stretched out too far, or hunched too close. Check with a couple of good bike people in your area with your bike and see what they have to say.
    Mike

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    I'm 37 and have had two back surgeries in the last 4 years. I find the more fit I am and the more religiously I do my back exercises the better my back feels. I managed to put on about 35lbs too many since last summer and I have been struggling with pain because of it. I used to be a power lifter and that's how I hurt my back.

    Regular sit ups really hurt me. I either do plank exercises or crunches on a ball. Both of those work well for me. With a bad back it's a life long battle and when you get lazy (like I did the last 7-8 months) you really pay for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abelson View Post
    Whoaa...perfect thread.

    I too am in my mid 50s and have a lower back pain problem, though it is not extreme.

    I was thinking of putting a new stem on my bike to put the seat level with the handle bars...keeping me in an upright position.

    I do stretching several times a week...but if you could send a diagram or explanation of the stretches you do, I would really appreciate it.
    Lower lumbar pain and I thought the same as Abelson After 16 years of MTB with the vibro massage that gives- I went road. I could not get into the drops till I started practicing doing it - and still had some pain. Set the bars up to level with the saddle and improvement came but still some pain.

    Then the next bike and it is a "Race" geometry frame. The LBS set it up with the bars 3" lower than the saddle and they told me to ride it. That longer lower stretched out position worked. No back pain and it is a joy to ride. All I have to do now is get over the neck ache after 50 miles

    Attachments to show the difference on the two bikes.
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